Tips for Managing Teens with ADHD as Parent

Last Updated on August 14, 2020 by Ellen Christian

Here are a few tips for managing teens with ADHD. I could tell that my children were a bit different from a young age.  I was devastated the first time the school called me to tell me my child was “a problem” in class.  What had I done wrong? How had my parenting skills failed? With each new phone call informing me that my child would not sit still, stay in their chair, stop talking, learn to focus, I felt more and more like a failure as a parent.

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teens with ADHD

Tips for Managing Teens with ADHD as Parent

Other people’s children sat still. Why couldn’t my child follow the rules and fit in? After doing research online, I was quite positive my child had ADHD. I didn’t need a doctor to confirm it but the school did.

Our doctor’s policy was that the child had to be 6 before they could be diagnosed with ADHD and for my children, that was first/second grade. We got the official diagnosis and went to school to make certain that a 504 plan was in place.

For those that aren’t familiar with a 504 plan, it’s basically a set of rules that you, the doctor, and the school put together to make certain your child has the right conditions and help available in school to be successful.  When my children were younger, it was as simple as please have them sit in the front close to the teacher and not in the back next to a window or their best friend. Managing distractions is key.

Tips for managing teens with adhd

When the kids were younger, managing their ADHD was mostly a matter of giving them reminders to focus and ways to burn off all that extra energy.  Kids mature at different stages and some of their behaviors when younger were also seen in kids who were immature to some degree. As they got older, different behaviors started to emerge. Symptoms of ADHD can be very different for each child. One of the issues we had with both children was the lack of social skills. Respecting personal space and lack of self-control are things that we saw regularly.

Tips for managing teens with adhd

Tips for Managing Teens with ADHD

Now that my children are 15 and 20, their behaviors have improved in some ways.  There are still a number of symptoms of ADHD that we see regularly in both children. Inability to focus on one task for any amount of time is still a problem. Completing a whole task from start to finish takes a lot of reminders.  When they were little, we used a reward chart to encourage them to complete tasks.  We still use behavior rewards to some extent with my son who is 15.  My daughter is 20 and has managed to create her own reminder system and schedule for the most part.  Here are a few tips for managing teens with ADHD that are working for us.

  • Make sure that they have access to a counselor. Not every child will want to talk to someone but some will.  Being “different” often leads to being bullied in school. Both of my children regularly speak to counselors to help them deal with things in their life that they find challenging.
  • Give them ways to burn off extra energy.  My daughter doesn’t struggle with hyperactivity any longer for the most part. However, my son has more energy than 15 people need. We have encouraged him to be involved in sports and he has a membership at a local fitness center.  He thinks nothing of running 3 miles, playing basketball, lifting weights and mowing the lawn all in one day.

Tips for managing teens with adhd

  • Plan and schedule! I am a very organized person. Using calendars and lists comes naturally to me. I make sure that the kids have calendars and planners and offer suggestions on how they can keep their school work and appointments on task.
  • Connect and learn. Connect with other parents and learn what has worked for them when dealing with ADHD in children.  You may feel like you are the only one but you really aren’t. provides medical information, tips and advice that are all written by professional health writers, experts and physicians.  Visit for useful information on Childhood ADHD and other prevalent medical conditions related to health.
  • Alternative Schools. Both of my children have problems sitting still and concentrating on things they don’t find interesting. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day paying attention to algebra or biology is one of the biggest challenges we have faced.  Work with your school to find teachers who focus more on hands on learning – projects instead of papers or doing experiments instead of reading about them.

Tips for managing teens with adhd

We were very lucky that our school district offers alternative schools for the junior and senior year.  We have a technical center that gives the kids all of the college classes they need as well as a hands-on technical education. My daughter went to the culinary arts program for her junior year and the jazz and contemporary music program for her senior year.  She is now in college working towards a major in technical theater design.

My son will be attending the cosmetology program this year at our technical center. A bulk of their learning is based on their technical major. So while you do learn science, it’s worked into your major. My daughter got her science credits by learning about how science works in the kitchen.  My son will get his learning about anatomy and chemical reactions. There is also plenty of hands-on learning that gets them up and out of their chairs which is great for teens with ADHD.

Teens with ADHD

I hope that these tips for managing teens with ADHD will help you. I know that dealing with ADHD in children is not easy. What works for me may not work for you. Whatever you do, keep searching for the resources that will help you and your child the best.

Lifescript’s Childhood ADHD Health Center features tips, quizzes, recipes, and articles – all by professional health writers, experts and physicians – covering how to help your child succeed in school, advice for getting through the morning routine, how girls’ ADHD differs from boys’ and more. Please visit the Lifescript Health Center on Childhood ADHD for more information.

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8 thoughts on “Tips for Managing Teens with ADHD as Parent”

  1. these are great tips. parenting is never easy and whenever anything goes wrong with our kids, our first instinct is to blame ourselves. thanks for sharing what works for you!
  2. I cannot thank my mom enough to giving me a chance to talk with a psychiatrist when I was in high school and I had trouble focusing and was making a lot of poor decisions. Great post, lots of helpful info.
  3. This is a great resource. I know that I can remember from school several children who were dealing with ADHD and had a hard time concentrating for 6+ hours sitting in one place. It would be hard, but, it's good to know there are some ways to manage it.

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